Does staying in your comfort zone stifle growth and creativity?

More on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable…

In our first lockdown here in the UK there was a surge of creativity.

Hilarious memes and videos, new ways of working, new ways of schooling, new ways of living together.

My household was no different.

I’d never considered myself to be creative, it was a nice idea but it just ‘wasn’t me’.

Yet lockdown one gave me the time, space and necessity to look at life differently.

I began to question what really mattered to me.

I started to write a journal, which led to me creating this blog.

I realised I’m not that bad at drawing, if I take my time and copy a picture or a tutorial. 

I handmade the birthday cards I wasn’t able to buy from the shop.

I learned how to mix cement, operate a mini digger and became more adept with a wheelbarrow than I ever thought possible.

I made silly videos and co-opted others into doing the same to send friends and family birthday messages.

For a short time, I felt like anything was possible.  That I was capable of much more than I had given myself credit for, if only I gave it a go.

This opened up a world of possibilities.

I saw that there are so many ways to live this life, and it was exciting to experiment with things I might enjoy.

“Each time you try something for the first time you will grow – a little piece of the fear of the unknown is removed and replaced with a sense of empowerment.”

Annette White

I vowed to hold on to this feeling when the lockdown was lifted, but a month into the easing of our third lockdown, I can feel the monotonous autopilot creeping back in.

I was reminded of the spark of light that comes from figuring stuff out creatively recently.

A friend’s birthday was coming up and I had asked my husband to print out some photos to add to her birthday card, to show we were taking her open water swimming for her birthday.

He couldn’t print them, but miscommunication meant I didn’t discover this until the night before her birthday.

In minutes, I’d formulated a plan.

I searched for more photos , added funny captions, got my daughter to help me with the effects and within half an hour I had a funny video to send my friend on her birthday.

The video was much more effective than the printed photos would have been, and yet despite knowing I can make and edit videos, I automatically went for the easiest choice of printing off some images.

It was only when this was no longer an option that the idea of a video occurred to me.

Does this mean that if I stay within my comfort zone, then I’m depriving myself of the chance to explore creative solutions to problems?

I think it does.

Yet I’m aware that over the years I’ve worked hard to stay within my comfort zone.

Saying no to things that didn’t fit with my idea of who I was.

Now I’m working hard to escape it.

Escaping the comfort zone

Breaking out of my comfort zone doesn’t mean I necessarily want to make life difficult for myself, it’s more about stepping out of the confines of the stories I’ve told myself over the years about who I am and what I like to do.

If something sounds interesting then I’m trying to tune out the naysaying voice in my head (mine is called Brian) that tells me all the reasons I shouldn’t give it a go,  and try it anyway.

This might mean more work for my brain initially, it usually does when trying something different (our brains are programmed with a negativity bias that wants to recoil from uncertainty and keep us in the familiar, it’s much more efficient), but the pay offs could well be worth it, or not, but there’s only one way to find out for certain.

This shift in mindset has led to all sorts of good things, like working as a lunchtime supervisor at the local primary school, volunteering with my daughter in the local community shop, and hiring a camper van for a holiday with my family and our dog (I’m embracing the adventure, but there’s still a part of me that breaks out into palpitations when I think of two adults, two children and an overly bouncy fur ball, cocooned in a T5 camper for a week in the Great British Summertime).

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

This doesn’t have to mean bungee jumping or kayaking down the amazon.  Setting up this blog was scary, every time I publish an article or poem I have to overcome the naysaying Brian and his myriad of reasons why I should stop writing now. 

Speaking out loud what’s in my heart has been difficult but also rewarding, because it’s brought me more connection with my family and friends, and I’ve made more connections with bloggers and followers in the WordPress community than I ever thought possible (as a previous technophobe who didn’t even post on social media, this has been a pretty big fear to overcome).

Leaving procrastination behind and making gut decisions is way out of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to our house renovations, where I used to research everything to the point of brain implosion. More often than not it works out fine, sometimes it doesn’t, but I’m learning a lot more about trusting myself along the way.

Sometimes, just doing something a little bit differently is enough.

I don’t have to be bungee jumping or travelling the world to stretch my comfort zone, there are plenty of opportunities right in front of me.

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow and transform”

Roy T Bennett

I’d love to hear your experiences of stepping outside of your comfort zone.  Do you think it opens you up more creatively? 

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram click here.


Many thanks to David at The Skeptics Kaddish for his recent posts on blog tips, I had fun stepping out of my comfort zone and experimenting with headings and format in this weeks blog post.

13 thoughts on “Does staying in your comfort zone stifle growth and creativity?

  1. I’m so glad you found it helpful, Rae!

    BTW, please feel free to call me ‘David’ – that’s my first name. ‘ben’ just means ‘son of’ in Hebrew, and my father’s name was ‘Alexander’… so my pen name and blog are in memory / honor of my Papa.


    David

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  2. Great post. I completely agree – during the first lockdown, everybody started to look at the world through different eyes. Slowly but surely, the old world is returning, and everybody is falling back towards the way they once were. Many are looking forward to it. I don’t mind admitting that I quite liked lockdown.

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    • Thanks so much 🙏
      I agree with you, I enjoyed the first lockdown, it gave a lot of clarity as to what is important (the most recent one i didn’t enjoy so much, but I think the weather, major house renovations and the intense home schooling requirements had something to do with that 🙈)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post Rae. Joining a choir and performing on stage with them took me well outside my comfort zone, but , wow, what a buzz. You’re right in that the more you try different, scary things the more creative and empowered you become. My bucket list is growing !!

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      • I’d like to try wing walking !! Maybe a charity parachute jump but still mulling that one over.
        I’d like to learn how to design and make clothes to fit my ever changing shape. The list goes on !

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      • So I had to look wing walking up…are you crazy?! 😂😘

        I think I’d probably take the parachute jump over that!

        I accidentally paraglided once (went to take pics of a friend & got roped into doing it too…wearing slip on shoes!) It was very relaxing once we got in the air (with the shoes still on my feet.)

        You’ve got definite daredevil tendencies Mandy 👿

        At the moment my sights are set on things like minimalist living, and a family with a dynamic akin to the Waltons (& maybe a setting to match!) x

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